Yesterday, a committee of British Members of Parliament heard that the regulator of the UK gambling industry is to take into consideration possible restrictions on the stake limits for online games.
The chief executive officer of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Neil McArthur, revealed that he would make sure that the watchdog would consider the maximum limits allowed to be placed as bets online. A decision is expected to be made within the following six months.
In November 2019, some Members of Parliament called for a maximum stake of £2 to be allowed on online slot games, as they thought it would be appropriate to bring them in line with land-based machines situated in high-street betting shops. At the time the measure was proposed, MPs said that the measure was suggested as a way to battle what they described as “public health crisis” of gambling addiction in the UK. Following the proposed measure, shares in gambling operators fell considerably, wiping almost £1.2 billion off the leading gambling operators in the sector.
The Chair of the parliamentary committee on gambling-related harm, Carolyn Harris, has explained that online betting stakes obviously need a review to be made and it is even a long overdue. She insisted that the maximum bet for an online slot game should be imposed in line with the new maximum betting limits so that they match the ones for brick-and-mortar betting shops.
Anti-Gambling Campaigners Say Such Measures Are Long Overdue
The British gambling sector has seen a wave of stricter regulatory rules over the past few years as part of the Government’s and regulators’ efforts to better control the industry.
This is not the first time when the UK Gambling Commission is taking strict measures against the expanding popularity of gambling and possible gambling-related harm that could be inflicted on local communities. April 2019 finally saw the long-awaited reduction of the maximum stake allowed at so-called fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2.
Some have expressed fears that a review of the existing gambling legislation that has been promised by the Conservative Government could see strict regulation to be unveiled online, putting the UK gambling sector into a structural decline. Anti-gambling campaigners, however, insist that such a measure should have been taken a long time ago, as the existing UK gambling legislation is not suitable to regulate the market in the digital age.
Apart from that, some campaigners believe that it does not make sense for the Government to impose stricter maximum stake limits for land-based gambling terminals only. According to them, there should be equivalent measures for online gambling, too.
The boss of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), Brigid Simmons, the consideration of online stakes was expected as part of the Government’s review of the sector.